Thursday, April 4, 2013

More from my photographic studio... at the beach!

These pots share the colours of sea, sand and sky.  The pot on the left was from the second crystalline glaze firing, the pot on the right is from the third firing. 
A trace of cobalt in this glaze concentrates itself in the crystals that grow over the course of the firing.  Porcelain with crystalline glaze, height 9 3/8 inches (235mm).

This vase is a lovely sandy colour with pale pink edges to the crystals, almost like they have been outlined in pastel or chalk.  Vase, height 8 1/8 inches (205mm)

The crystals are thin rods that fan out around something that irritates them.  You can see this process quite clearly in the glaze on this pot.

Porcelain tear drop shaped bottle, height 10 inches (254mm)

Almost white glaze with crystals that are outlined in pink.

This has golden coloured crystals near the rim. The bright sunshine really shows up the colours in this pot, in average light it is a bit darker in tone.  I often notice that the part of the pot where crystalline glazes overlap regular stoneware glaze can be interesting.  On this pot I first put a dark brown tenmoko glaze, then put a crystalline glaze all over it.  I realised that I would be unlikely to get any large crystals, but I was more interested in the fluidity and drama of the two glazes working together.  Vase 10 inches high (254mm)  

My kiln log tells me that I have fired crystalline glaze firings on 26, 28, 31March, and on the 3rd of April.  The 3rd of April firing started at 1.30 in the morning and continued until 5 in the afternoon.. slightly shorter than some, but a long day for me.  The kiln will be opened early tomorrow morning.  The first two firings followed an almost identical schedule.  I changed this quite a bit on firing number three, and changed again on number four.

This shows the second and third firing.

This shows the fourth firing
The important differences are in the last half of each firing, where the kiln is held at about 1100 degrees centigrade (2012 F).  Holding the kiln above or below this temperature, can give you different shaped crystals, ranging from spiky to round.  Abrupt dips in temperature can cause growth rings to form in the crystals.  Holding for a longer period at a lower temperature, then at a higher temperature, can give some of the roundness of one, mixed with the spiky appearance of the other!  It is possible to make pale or dark margins to the crystals, all by playing with the temperature settings.

Crystalline glaze firings are an odd mixture of art, guesswork, and science.  There is also an alarming failure rate.  It is not unusual to only get one or two good pots out of a kiln load of 5 or 6.  I have two large pots and one small one in the fourth firing, and I am hoping... and hoping, that at least one will be good!  The tallest of the pots came within an inch of the lid of the kiln when it was packed, I am hoping that the natural shrinkage of the clay as the pot vitrified will have given it a safer clearance.  I will find out tomorrow morning when I lift the kiln lid!

On Saturday 6 April (which is almost upon us!) we will be having a craft table at the Waikouaiti Food Festival. This ambitious gastronomic event is going to be held at the racecourse, from 10am until 4pm.  The festival is a fund raiser for the local museum.  This institution has recently been re-branded with the more "sexy" appellation, "Waikouaiti Coast Heritage Centre".  Four celebrity chefs will be demonstrating, there will be food, wine, and beer tasting, there will be live entertainment... and so on.., and my lovely Laura will be in attendance with a table full of my pots. It should be a really fun day, do come along!

Also on Saturday, is the opening of the exhibition at Pottery-on-Tyne in Oamaru, at 7pm.  Somehow we plan to be there too, and I look forward to meeting up with the other potters at the club. All going well there will be strong coffee on tap in addition to the usual fuel of openings!

Must go and help Laura pack for the Saturday craft table. 



Linda Starr said...

Great shots at the beach, a lot of patience you have to achieve your crystals, check out Meredith's post to see her gourd crystals, have a good show

Hannah said...

Crikey they look monumental in scale there don't they. You just set me thinking of the Moeraki Boulders now.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Goodness, we must be all sitting at our computers at the same time! Lovely to hear from you. I've just zoomed over to Meredith's, yes you are right they are just like crystals, aren't they stunning!!

Hi Hannah,
I would love to make pots as big as those ones look! I need a much bigger kiln.... and a controller that I can programme! I must go and visit the Moeraki boulders again, who knows what they might inspire! A Moeraki boulder would probably make great glaze material, I think they are mud stone!!!

cookingwithgas said...

They do look quite large and as if they should live at the beach.

I want a post called toes at the beach....

When I look at Crystalline glazes I always think of bright sun filled rooms to show off those colors.
How close are you to the beach? Seems I need to goggle where you live.

Angie said...

I so love the look of your pots against the sea ...wonderfulback drop....goes with the beautiful pots Good Luck on the 6th xx to you all.

Sandy miller said...

Peter, quite intriqued by that tenmoku piece.... Are you going to keep going with it? It's quite lovely, could it be seeded with manganese to promote crystal growth? Something I have been rolling around for awhile now....

Oh and do love the beach shots :)

Teresa Evangeline said...

I have never seen anyone else doing this crystalline glaze ... they are simply gorgeous.

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
I like the "toes at the beach" title, maybe we should put that around as a blog theme that others might like to follow too. I'll have to hurry if I did some photos for that, as we are heading rapidly into autumn here and chilly temperatures! We are very close to the beach, and there is a nice walk that takes us there, via a lagoon. You can find us easily on Google Earth. Try Waikouaiti, you might like to look at 152 Main Road whilst you are there!

Hi Angie,
I should move my studio to the beach permanently, it is a great place to look at pots, and the wide open space and sea air is good for the spirit too!
We appreciate your "Good Luck for the 6th" and we'll be thinking of you all too.

Hi Sandy,
Lovely to hear from you. Yes, putting crystalline glazes over more conventional stoneware glazes is something that I want to develop a lot further. Seeding crystals into the combination of crystalline over tenmoko may work. Not sure that manganese would be helpful in this case, but I think others have managed to seed crystals with little blobs of 50/50 zinc and silica over crystalline glaze bases that are just a tiny bit short of zinc oxide. That might work here. The seed gives just enough zinc to stimulate crystal growth at that point.

Mostly I use a tenmoko style glaze as a liner inside the pot, and there is always drama where the outer crystalline glaze meets it..., sometimes it is the best feature of the pot! I have also used crystalline and dolomite matt glazes together with interesting results, and one time a purple nickel glaze under crystalline which was really exciting. It always seems to me that the extreme mobility of
crystalline glazes is something to turn into an asset rather than a liability. One piece where I tried to do this, and put crystalline over the top third only, and tenmoko with chun over the bottom two thirds, then added some oil drip reduction into the kiln as it was cooling... was on my blog post of

Hi Teresa,
When crystalline glazes work they are so full of magic, that they become addictive. I do still get quite a flutter of excitement before opening the kiln.

Armelle Léon Bitterolf said...

Bonjour Peter,

Your crystals are beautiful and the photos too, The beach is really nice. Best wishes for your upcomming events.

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
Well, almost, it is now 5 past midday here! Lovely to hear from you. Really busy time for us, but it is nice to be taking new work from the kiln! Best Wishes, P

Sandy miller said...

Peter, if you are on Facebook check out Sebastian Moh's work. He is a good friend is doing some wonderful things with crystals. The bottoms of his tea bowls look like galaxies.

I will be unloading a kiln Sunday morning and hope to have a few tenmoku glazes. If I get anything exciting I will try to post. Love what you're doing!

Peter said...

Hi Sandy,

I'll definitely have a look at Sebastian Moh's work, it is very interesting to see what other people are doing with these glazes. I hope you do post the results of the tenmoku glazes, I look forward to seeing them. P.

Peter said...

Hi Sandy,
Just had a look at Sebastian Moh's work, it is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for mentioning his name to me. P.